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Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project

Community Climate photo

Completed in 2016, the Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project focused on three of the most imminently threatened villages in Western Alaska: the communities of Kivalina, Shaktoolik and Shishmaref. The project was based on the premise that careful planning, agency collaboration and strong community leadership are essential to successfully addressing the needs of imperiled communities.

Through this effort, comprehensive Strategic Management Plans were prepared for each community. These plans take a comprehensive approach to increasing community resilience to climate impacts and natural hazards by strengthening local capacity, assessing and guiding community and infrastructure development, and supporting environmental protection and human safety. The Strategic Management Plans received a National Recognition Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for ACEC's 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards.

During the planning process, Village Inter-Agency Planning Groups were organized for each community. These planning groups continue to be held to help each community implement the strategic actions within each strategic management plan (see below).

Community Project Pages for Kivalina, Shaktoolik and Shishmaref Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project Documents and Links DCRA's Community Resilience Programs

Community resilience is increased through three measures:

  • Interagency Collaborative Support Structure: Using a collaborative model similar to the Newtok Planning Group, DCRA has establish interagency planning work groups for each the three communities. Through these working groups, collaborative organizational structures have been developed to focus the combined capabilities of local, regional, state, and federal stakeholders on accomplishing the recommended actions for each community, whether it is shoreline protection, elevation of community structures, migration from shorelines, relocation, or a combination of these actions. These planning work groups serve as a vehicle for coordinating resources and technical assistance from state and federal agencies, regional organizations and local governments on a community-specific basis. With the completion of Strategic Management Plans for each community in 2016, the interagency planning work groups continue to meet to assist each community with the implementation of the strategic actions from each plan.
  • Local Capacity Building: Under the original CIAP grant, sub-grants were provided to each community to establish a full-time community coordinator (two years) who worked with project staff, representatives of the inter-agency group, and the contractor, as well as serve as an advocate for funding through grants and other means to implement needed evaluations and action plans. A key role of the community coordinators is to ensure community representation at the interagency working group meetings. DCRA provided training and technical assistance to the local project coordinator in the areas of community planning, project development and grant writing. Since the close of the orginal CIAP grant for this project, the Denali Commission has provided funding to the local coodinators to continue this work.
  • Comprehensive Strategic Management Plans: Strategic Management Plans were developed for each community to provide the “blueprint” for how the community and agencies will proceed over the next five years to accomplish the recommended actions the community has decided to take, such as shoreline protection, elevation of community structures, migration from shorelines, relocation, or a combination of these actions. The Strategic Management Plans were completed in 2016, however implementation of the plans by the three communities and the interagency planning groups continues. The Strategic Management Plans received a National Recognition Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for ACEC's 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards.

The planning team with the tribal leadership of the communities of Kivalina, Shaktoolik and Shishmaref,

The planning team with the tribal leadership of the communities of Kivalina, Shaktoolik and Shishmaref

The Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project was conducted by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA), initially through a grant from the Alaska Coastal Impact Assistance Program. This project, and the Alaska Coastal Impact Assistance Program, were funded with qualified outer continental shelf oil and gas revenues by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.


For more information contact:

Sally Russell Cox

Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1650
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588
FAX: (907) 269-4066
Email:sally.cox@alaska.gov